PHONETIC (IN)CONSISTENCY IN THE DICTIONARIES OF ENGLISH
The recent wide-spread application of computers in lexicography revealed multiple editorial inconsistencies in practically all components of the dictionary entry: definitions, examples, syntactic frames, part-of-speech tags, subcategorizations and phonetics. In a machine-readable version of a dictionary it is rather easy to check for consistency of phonetic representation of words selected to meet specified criteria. What such a check is likely to reveal (beyond the unavoidable typing error) is rampant variation in the phonetic rendering of classes of words where one would expect uniformity.
In my paper I look at such cases in three machine-readable dictionaries of English. In particular, I analyze the phonetic representation of sonorant syllabicity, where variation appears to be due to its phonetic conditioning, word frequency factors, as we ll as downright inconsistency. Lexicographic and EFL-didactic ramifications are discussed.
There are an amazing variety of machine-readable English dictionaries (MRDs) now available in terms of required hardware, software platform, design, size and purpose. Yet, there are relatively few MRDs which were custom-made for learners of English as a foreign language. Even the Collins Cobuild or Longman Interactive, excellent resources as they are, share the two possibly most damaging weaknesses of all EFL-oriented MRDs: L1-insensitivity and access-inflexibility.
In this paper I describe an English-Polish MRD now in preparation in the School of English, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań, Poland. This MRD avoids the flaws mentioned above in that it offers Polish-sensitive multiple access:
1.phonetic access through: (a) the phonetic transcription of the British and American pronunciation of each headword and wordform, (b) segmental length in letters and phonemes, (c) accentual pattern (primary and secondary stress), (d) syllabic length, boundaries and C/V structure, (e) some EFL-wise important distinctive features like voicing in obstruents or vowel tenseness.
2.frequency access; written (printed), spoken, British and American word frequency (from the available word-frequency lists) will be provided on top of the global frequency codes like rare.
3.as much of the morphosyntactic and phraseological information will be accessible for active searching as is practically implementable: part-of-speech tagging, compound flags, collocations, acronyms, idiosyncrasies, etc.
4.semantic accessthrough: (a) Polish translation, (b) about 60 semantic field labels and (c) a thesaurus facility containing common synonyms and antonyms.
PHONETIC TRANSCRIPTION IN MACHINE-READABLE DICTIONARIES
In MRDs the representative/informative function of phonetic representation is complemented by its indexical function: MRDs can be searched phonetically using any available information on the pronunciation of words: phonemic structure, stress pattern, syllable boundaries, segmental length, etc. The design of MRD phonetic transcription should be sensitive to the requirements imposed by this unorthodox function. The user trying to locate a word by its (transcribed) sound or generating a list of words meeting phonetic criteria will use transcription actively: clarity and ease of use ('friendliness'), consistency and grapho-phonemic bi-uniqueness are essential in this connection.
Three widely used systems of MRD phonetic transcription are discussed from the point of view of their indexical search function. Their relative merits are compared and deficiencies pointed out.
ON THE LOGIC OF MARKEDNESS ARGUMENTS
(Full text of this paper here)
In this paper I analyse in some detail four different types of markedness arguments: those having to do with:
In this connection I expose what I believe to be common logical and theoretical fallacies in markedness thinking:
The main aim of the paper is methodological awareness raising. Examples of faulty argumentation - taken from the most relevant sources concerned with linguistic markedness - are presented and analysed.
SPEECH IN EFL CALL
That language is predominantly spoken is a linguistic platitude. It is surprising with what difficulty this truth has been making inroads in the theory and practice of CALL. Technological inadequacy, after all, accounts for only part of the problem . What appears to be the main culprit is the lack of phonetic awareness in both teachers and programmers of CALL software. No advances in multimedia hardware and software alone will improve the situation without a deeper reflection on the role of pronunciation in CALL.
What I propose to do in this presentation is to review the process of the gradual introduction of speech into EFL CALL, from the pre-speech epoch of Sinclair's ZX Spectrum, through today's multimedia, to tomorrow's full-scale speech recognition and unders tanding. I will show both the potential and the limitations of this process, especially those which arise at the interface of modern multimedia technology and foreign language pedagogy.
"PROSHEH MOOVEECH POVOLI" OR: PHRASE-BOOK PHONETICS OF POLISH
Four phrase books of Polish for English speakers are analysed from the phonetic point of view. Issues discussed include the choice and implementation of phonetic transcription, with its characteristic L1-motivated simplifications, the extent of exp licit phonetic guidance contained in the introductory sections, and the implications for contrastive English-Polish phonetics, particularly in its glottodidactic EFL aspect.
RADICALLY SIMPLIFIED PHONETIC TRANSCRIPTION FOR POLGLISH SPEAKERS
A radically simplified phonetic transcription is proposed for use by Polish learners of English in querying a computer-readable phonetic-access dictionary. Such SPAD transcription differs from that of IPA-type mainly in that:
Benefits of this L1-sensitive and phono-graphemically non-bi-unique transcription are presented.
HOW TO AVOID DIACRITICS or: spelling manipulation in Polish electronic communication
Despite common belief, there are pragmatically interesting phenomena in electronically mediated communication (EMC) deep below the level of meaning, syntax or discourse. One such phenomenon is that users of 'accented' alphabets must decide how to represent their spelling in EMC (switching to English as lingua franca is not an option open to monolingual speakers). In this situation (quasi-)phonetic transcription, although it tends to be erratic and requires a dramatic change of metalinguistic perspective, appears to be a viable suggestion.
In this paper I analyse pragmatically motivated manipulation of Polish spelling which makes it more suitable to use in EMC. Nine Polish letters carry 'accents' (diacritics) which do not transmit over electronic networks (diagonal slash, bottom hook, superscript dot). The phonetic value of such 'accented' letters is in many ways different from their 'unaccented' bases (nasalization, palatalization, labialization, etc.). In Polish EMC all these symbols are normally stripped of their diacritics, which is not entirely satisfactory for a number of reasons. For example, every third word on average in a continuous Polish text is graphemically changed, which may (and does) cause problems even with the disambiguating effect of context.
In this situation, quasi-phonetic transcription could be used to avoid both using diacritics. This manipulation is unlike the diacritic-stripping process in that it goes far beyond mechanical graphemic manipulation. It is, indeed, a highly metalinguistic activity which involves pragmatically motivated deliberate tampering with Polish grapho- and morpho-phonemics. In the paper I describe some of the types of manipulation which may be used.
WHEN DICTIONARIES TALK: PRONUNCIATION IN EFL MM MRDS
English-as-a-Foreign-Language MultiMedia Machine-Readable-Dictionaries (EFL MM MRDs) are ever more widely used in the process of teaching and learning English pronunciation. In this paper I briefly evaluate some of their phonetic co ntent and function, with particular attention to the visual (transcription) and audio (recorded speech) representation of English pronunciation. Common strengths and weaknesses are pointed out: access to phonetic information, its consistency, quality, coverage, multimedia support and user interface.
CAN EFL MRDs TEACH PRONUNCIATION?
English-as-a-Foreign-Language Machine-Readable-Dictionaries (EFL MRDs), both traditional and multimedia, are gradually taking on new functions. With the addition of grammar and word-formation modules, usage notes, thematic tables, pictures and diag rams, interactive audio and video scenes with a variety of built-in exercises, they are becoming fully-fledged teaching/learning resources in addition to simply being reservoirs of lexicographic information. Few such dictionaries, however, have so far ser iously attempted to extend this new function into the area of pronunciation. In this paper I look at both such phonetic functions which are readily implementable on the basis of the currently existing lexical databases and those which would require some a dditional unorthodox lexicographic annotation.
ELECTRONIC DICTIONARIES AND ENCYCLOPEDIAS -- PROMISES AND DANGERS
Promises and dangers inherent in electronic (computer-readable) dictionaries and encyclopedias (ED&Es) are discussed in the context of educational media. It is argued that the following content- and function-related problems hav e not received enough attention in the relevant literature: (a) users' inability to cope with the exploding size and coverage of ED&Es and illusions of universality, (b) the superficiality of multimedia encroaching upon the more traditional, but deepe r, domain of text, (c) the hidden inflexibility and ideological nature of hypertext, (d) the severe limitations of current ED&Es' indexing and access facilities, (e) the lack of more profound interactive customization on all levels of ED&Es' struc ture and function. An appeal is voiced for more user-centred approach to the design and use of ED&Es in terms of all five issues listed above and relevant examples are provided.
PHONETIC ACCESS IN OED2 ON CD-ROM
Phonetic access in the second edition of Oxford English Dictionary on CD-ROM is analysed and found wanting on a number of criteria: (a) the way length and stress are marked goes counter the standard IPA requirement of transcriptional bi-uniqueness and is highly confusing, (b) optionality-coding brackets (which are ignored by the system in queries) as well as bi-graphemic treatment of diphthongs and affricates severely distort query results, (c) the choice of ASCII substitutes for IPA symbols is counterintuitive and confusing. Wider consequences for electronic lexicography and teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) are touched upon.
PRONUNCIATION IN EFL MRDs
Chapter I presents the state of the art in EFL MRD phonetics from three points of view. First, I discuss the underappreciation of phonetics in EFL dictionaries (section 1.1.) and review the existing literature of the subject (sections 1.2. and 1.3.). As mentioned in the Preface, the literature on EFL MRD phonetics (section 1.3.) is not particularly abundant, but it would not be fair to pass in silence over those contributions which exist and which I will refer to afterwards.
Then, a brief overview is presented of the software available, with particular attention paid to the Polish market (section 2.). This unavoidable localization to the author's here and now should not be an obstacle to the foreign reader because many of the locally available MRDs are either simple adaptations of the originals or unchanged originals themselves.
In sections 3., 4. and 5. a somewhat deeper analysis of certain structural and functional features of available MRDs will be undertaken, with particular attention paid to questions of phonetic representation, access and consistency.
In section 3., visual and auditory phonetic representation in MRDs is analysed, with particular attention paid to typography, alphabetisation, GUI display of phonetic transcription (section 3.1.), the visualisation of pronunciation with waveform graphs (section 3.2.), the quality of the recorded sound (section 3.3.), and the correlation between transcription and recording (section 3.4.). Problems and flaws of three EFL MRDs in this context are presented in detail, and postulates for a better phonetic representation in MRDs are formulated.
In section 4., questions of phonetic access are discussed: a review of OED2 on CD-ROM from this point of view appears in section 4.1., and problems of ASCII coding of phonetic transcription are dealt with in section 4.2. It is shown that OED2's phonetic access procedures are deficient in many ways, and that the ASCII coding must be rethought for systems where it functions not only in representation of phonetic transcription but also in interactive phonetic access.
In section 5., a detailed analysis is attempted of phonological (in)consistency in four different MRDs. One phonetic/phonological phenomenon is chosen for in-depth treatment, that of sonorant syllabicity in English. It is shown that the four MRDs exhibit unmotivated inconsistencies in how they handle this phenomenon, both internally and among themselves. The teaching/regularising function of MRDs is emphasised in this context.
For Chapter II I made a questionnaire study of over six hundred post-secondary Polish students of English, asking them questions about their knowledge of, beliefs about, and attitudes toward EFL phonetics in general, EFL dictionary phonetics and EFL MRD phonetics, in particular.
First an overview is presented of the existing literature on EFL dictionary use, with particular attention paid to what it has discovered about patterns of use and attitudes towards dictionary representation of pronunciation (section 1.).
In section 2., the methodology of the questionnaire study is discussed: subjects, procedure and the questionnaire form itself.
In section 3., detailed frequency distribution tables and graphs are presented, as well as analysis of responses to (a) part II of the questionnaire, where 41 question were asked concerning many aspects of dictionary phonetics and pronunciation teaching/learning in general, (b) part III of the questionnaire, where 10 questions were asked about respondents' preferences in ASCII coding of phonetic transcription, and (c) part IV of the questionnaire, where additional comments and opinions were sought from respondents.
In Chapter III I look at "the things to come". First, the issue of L1 (in)sensitivity in EFL MRDs is discussed in some detail in section 1. Two problems in particular are addressed in detail, that of simplified L1-sensitive transcription (Polglish SPAD transcription; section 1.1. and 1.2.) and that of the phonetic difficulty index (section 1.3.). It is shown that both are complex but extremely useful functionalities to have in an EFL MRD.
Then, in section 2., a prototype of phonetic-access dictionary (PAD) is introduced, which addresses some of the problems and weaknesses of existing EFL MRDs described in Chapter I, especially in terms of versatility, flexibility, L1-sensitivity and phonetic access. This section is richly illustrated with screen-dumps and examples from the actual application.
Finally, in section 3., suggestions are made for further improvements in this area, all focused on the role of pronunciation in EFL dictionaries in general, and MRDs in particular. The discussion in this extensive section develops from easily implementable functionalities to more and more ambitious projects, requiring enormous expertise, work-power and financing, but also finally realising the foreign language learner's dream of the ultimate computer wordstation of the future.
ON THE PHONETICS OF TRANS- IN EFL DICTIONARIES
In this paper I present a short critical overview of the phonetic treatment of one particular English morpheme (trans-) in leading EFL dictionaries, four monolingual: OALDCE, LDOCE, COBUILD and CIDE, and three widely used pronouncing dictionaries of English available in Poland, Kenyon & Knott's Pronouncing dictionary of American English, Wells's Longman pronunciation dictionary and Biedrzycki's Practical Pronouncing Dictionary.
I show that neither within dictionaries, nor across them, is there complete consistency in the phonetic representation of trans-. Some of the observed variation can be explained by some underlying linguistic factors, which are, however, hidden from the eyes of the learner. Other is doubtless due to the intuitive nature of the representations, which are not regularised by reference to specific phonological/phonetic rules, but rather to individual preferences of the compilers. Finally, phonetic representations in dictionaries are apparently not as thoroughly cross-checked as other elements of the microstructure, such as definitions or grammar codes, which leads to further variation, this time completely haphazard.
PHONETIC KEYWORDS IN LEARNER'S DICTIONARIES
Phonetic keywords found in the pronunciation guides to five monolingual learners' dictionaries of English (OALDCE4, LDOCE3, COBUILD1, CIDE and CHAMBERS) are evaluated with respect to their familiarity, phonetic difficulty and textual frequency. It is shown that while they are more or less equivalent on the first two scores (with OALDCE4 and CIDE listing words slightly easier to pronounce than the other three dictionaries), OALDCE4's words are almost twice as frequent in running English as those of CHAMBERS. Appeal is made for more research into the phonetic structure and choice of keywords, which are supposed to assist the dictionary user in the difficult task of phonetic look-up.
ON THE METAPHONOLOGY OF POLISH PUN-SPOONERISMS
The awareness is growing in psycholinguistics that deliberate manipulation of language on all its structural and functional levels can, and should, be studied in its own right, rather than as a mere provider of so-called 'external evidence'. Speech play is a metalinguistic activity par excellence. And deliberate (pun-)spoonerisms, as one type of punning, are a prototypical speech game at least in Indoeuropean languages. Polish is no exception.
A sample of 814 Polish pun-spoonerisms is analysed (meta)phono-logically and phonostatistically with a view to what they reveal about the functioning of punsters' metalinguistic competence. Questions asked include the following: (1) what are the preferences in Polish spooneristic metatheses in terms of segment identity, syllable structure, juncture position, and modality (phonemic vs graphemic), (2) how is paronomasia (heterophony) involved in addition to simple (?) transposition, (3) how does Polish 'gra półsłówek' (half-word game) compare to its English congener on the phonological level?
The framework is that of interdependent functional components of speakers/listeners' linguistic and cognitive competence probabilistically (non-deterministically) controlling their performance, whose unavoidable variability reveals the interplay of structural and pragmatic factors in speech processing.
This paper was originally contributed to a volume of Polish linguistics, which, however, ultimately failed to appear. After about six years since writing it is far from what I am doing now, research-wise. As such, I feel I could not try to publish it traditionally (i.e. hard-copy) without major revisions and updates, especially as far as bibliography is concerned. At the same time, however, I thought it would be a waste to file it away altogether. So I decided to upload it onto my web page. I leave it to the reader to judge if it was the right decision.
Click here to download the full version of the paper, written as a .doc file under MS Word 7, with fonts built in (mostly Polish and phonetic), and PK-zipped into 460 kB.
EASE, SPEED AND ACCESS: ATTITUDE AND EXPERIENCE OF COMPUTER DICTIONARIES
645 students of Poznań English philologies (School of English, Department of Russian, Teachers' Training College of English) filled in a questionnaire whose part was devoted to their attitudes to and experience of machine-readable dictionaries (MRDs) of English. The questions concerned mainly the relative ease, speed and access flexibility of computer dictionaries as opposed to traditional hard-copy ones. Statistically significant differences obtain in users' attitudes and knowledge of these (MRD) parameters between two groups of respondents: those declaring that they "have used a computer dictionary of English recently" ('experts') and those declaring otherwise ('ignorants'). Conclusions are drawn concerning the interplay of experience and attitude in the use of MRDs and, more generally, in computer-mediated communication (CMC) and human-computer interface (HCI).
ENGLISH SPEECH IN POLISH EYES: WHAT UNIVERSITY STUDENTS THINK ABOUT ENGLISH PRONUNCIATION TEACHING AND LEARNING
645 university-level Poznań students of English answered a questionnaire concerning their perception of English pronunciation, as taught in their respective schools (School of English, School of Russian, Teacher-Training College). Most (a) have used some phonetic transcription in their notes and believe that it is not too difficult for learners, (b) wish they had more pronunciation practice, (c) believe that listening to English is not more difficult than speaking it and that good English pronunciation is not more important than grammar or vocabulary. About half of the respondents have no opinion on whether American respelling transcriptions are easier than British, and they are divided equally on whether or not they practise English pronunciation regularly on their own.
Two independent variables: the respondent's respective school and the year of study s/he is in were chosen for closer scrutiny. As far as the former is concerned, the statistically significant differences in frequency distributions observed are clearly due to (a) the socio-economic background of the students and (b) the character of the school. The year of study was found to affect especially (a) active use of phonetic transcription and pronunciation practice outside of class (inversely) and (b) assessment of transcription difficulty (directly).
Some conclusions are drawn, on a macro (educators should take it into account that Polish students believe English pronunciation to be important, and are not afraid of phonetic transcription) as well as on a micro scale (Russian School English teachers can benefit from their students' very good attitude towards transcription).
ON THE (META?)PHONOTACTICS OF FILE EXTENSION COINING
Sixty-nine first year students of the School of English, Adam Mickiewicz University, filled in a "computer file extension questionnaire" containing twelve monomorphemic English words with medial -C1C2C3- clusters. They were asked to "choose one of the provided extensions for a given word" to "help computer scientists to create good, user-friendly extensions".
The real aim of the questionnaire was to see which bisegmental cluster they would rather choose, in constructing a CCC extension, to complement the word-initial C0: -C1C2- or -C2C3-. It was hypothesised that their choice might be at least partly controlled by the phonotactics of the clusters, be it language-specific phonotactics of English or the universal phonotactics, based on optimal sonority relations between segments.
The overriding principle appears to be to take the leftmost pair, -C1C2-. Extension coining is thus shown to follow certain general psychophonetic and metaphonological regularities, such as word-onset salience and mnemonicity. Simultaneously, however, (1) the selected -C1C2- clusters are all phonotactically correct word-final clusters in English, (2) most of the selected -C2C3- clusters are phonotactically correct word-initial clusters in English, (3) while the coined "triples" are all universally preferred word-medial clusters (not all of them attested in English).
WHEN ARE PERIPHERAL PLOSIVES PREFERRED?Peripheral plosives (p,b,k,g) appear with higher than chance frequency in English paronomasic puns, slang and onomatopoeia. It is hypothesized that peripheral preference in these areas of language usage is due to the relatively low running-English token frequency of content words favoured therein. It is shown that rare words tend to contain more, and frequent words - fewer, peripheral plosives than expected by chance. Lexical and phonological markedness are thus shown to be correlated.
SUBJECTIVE PHONETIC DIFFICULTY OF ENGLISH WORDS TO POLISH LEARNERS: DOES FREQUENCY MATTER?208 Polish students of English philology filled in a questionnaire concerning the perceived phonetic difficulty of twenty English words stratified on two dimensions: (1) a-priori assessment of phonetic difficulty made by the author of this paper and (2) word frequency rank. A two-way ANOVA confirmed the significance of both main effects and their synergetic interaction, i.e. the perceived difficulty rating was affected by both the word's a-priori difficulty index and its frequency independently, as well as by their product. Conclusions are drawn for the theory and practice of EFL teaching in general, and for the design of EFL dictionaries with phonetic access in particular.
PHONETICS AND IDEOLOGY OF DEFINING VOCABULARIESThe controlled defining vocabularies of LDOCE3 and CIDE have been tested for phonetic difficulty and ideological bias. The research hypotheses were that: (1) they are on the whole not phonetically easier than the 'ordinary' lexicon of English, and (2) they are ideologically biased in that they tend to reflect the realm of material concepts better than spiritual. Both hypotheses failed: the two vocabularies are in fact phonetically easier than the reference lexicon (significant at p<.01), and the slight bias towards the 'appearance&body' concepts in both vocabularies is statistically nonsignificant. Didactic ramifications in the EFL context as well as the lexicographic import of the findings are discussed.
PHONETIC TRANSCRIPTION WALLCHARTS IN EFLPhonetic transcription wallcharts produced and distributed as teaching aids by the main EFL publishers show serious deficiencies on a number of counts: psycholinguistic, didactic, phonetic, typographic and graphical. Some of these deficiencies and ways of overcoming them are discussed, in particular: (a) the rather cavalier typographic treatment of IPA transcription, (b) the spacial arrangement and grouping of phonemes into (un)natural classes, (c) the learner-confusing choice and design of picture mnemonics cueing IPA symbols, (d) the haphazard choice of phonetic keywords often scoring low on imagibility and textual frequency, but high on phonetic difficulty criteria. Cambridge UP and Oxford UP wallcharts are analysed in detail along these lines.
CO WIEDZĄ O KOMPUTERACH NAUCZYCIELE JĘZYKA ANGIELSKIEGO?Badanie ankietowe przeprowadzono 22 stycznia 2001 roku na 27-osobowej próbce nauczycieli języka angielskiego podejmujących jednosemestralne studia podyplomowe w IFA UAM, których częścią był 10-godzinny kurs w zakresie edukacyjnych zastosowań komputerów. Większość ankietowanych nauczycieli: (a) miała tytuł naukowy magistra, (b) była płci żeńskiej, (c) uczyła w szkołach publicznych, (d) stopnia ponadpodstawowego. Kwestionariusz obejmował 30 zdań, których prawdziwość bądź fałsz respondent miał określić wstawiając plus bądź minus. Zdania obejmowały różne poziomy trudności, od banalnie prostych (The size of RAM in a computer is an important consideration before purchase) do stosunkowo trudnych (ASCII is one of the better known programming languages). Rezultaty tej i innych ankiet wskazują, że kompetencja komputerowa ('computer literacy') wśród nauczycieli języka angielskiego jest mocno zróżnicowana: najlepsza w zakresie budowy i podstawowych funkcji komputerów, najgorsza w dziedzinie zastosowań dydaktycznych. Do pewnego stopnia wyniki tego badania pokrywają się z rezultatami innych podobnych studiów prowadzonych w Polsce. Taki stan rzeczy ma swoje niedobre konsekwencje dla rozwoju językowej dydaktyki wspomaganej komputerowo, wśród nich: (a) nieefektywne wykorzystanie dostępnych narzędzi, (b) słaby nacisk pedagogów na dalszą komputeryzację szkół, (c) zaniżenie samooceny pedagogów w stosunku do uczniów.
LEXICOGRAPHIC PHONETICS OR PHONETIC LEXICOGRAPHY?
Lexicographic phonetics is phonetics applied to the process of dictionary-making. While it has not been labeled as such, it has traditionally been concerned with issues such as: the choice of accent and transcription to represent in dictionaries, the extent of dialectal, phonostylistic and idiosyncratic variation of pronunciation covered, the representation of stress and weak forms, etc. Authors have included Abercrombie, Gimson and Wells, among others.
Phonetic lexicography is what dictionary makers and critics do when they ponder sound representation from the lexicographic perspective. Issues of relevance include: the questions of consistency, the place and role of pronunciation in the microstructure of the dictionary, the treatment of pronunciation in learners' dictionaries, sound recording, playback and synthesis in electronic multimedia dictionaries, and others. Few (meta)lexicographers have ever done substantial work in this area.
Ultimately, the two pursuits cannot be clearly delimited, of course. They both cover, each from its own perspective, the little-explored ground of sound representation in dictionaries. Both the traditionally tackled issues and the new vistas are discussed in the paper.
WHY NOT LFC?
A new pronunciation standard has recently been proposed as a viable goal for foreign learners of English to reach, that of Lingua Franca Core (Jenkins 2000). LFC would be the pronunciation of English as an International Language (EIL) or English as a Lingua Franca (ELF). The project for a 'realistic' pronunciation syllabus for International English has gained wide support in many EFL circles. Yet, it is marred by a number of faults and weaknesses. In this presentation arguments are provided against LFC-like standards/syllabuses, and for the traditional RP/GA ones. The arguments come from a wide range of considerations: (1) philosophical: axiology does not follow from ontology, (2) ideological: political correctness (anti-linguistic-imperialism and the like) does not serve objective scientific judgement, (3) (socio)linguistic: speech is used for much more than sheer communication, (4) pedagogical: loosening didactic standards must not be post-hoc excused and encouraged, (5) psychological: native-like pronunciation is recognized by learners as an asset in itself. They are developed in reaction to the writings and pronouncements of the main proponents of LFC pronunciation: Jennifer Jenkins, Barbara Seidlhofer, and others. All argumentation is relativized to the here-and-now of the Polish EFL scene at the onset of the 21st century.
Jenkins,J. 2000. The phonology of English as an international language. Oxford: OUP.
WHAT CAN BE, BUT IS NOT (AND WHY), IN LEARNERS' MRDS
Modern Machine-Readable Dictionaries (MRDs) offer users an unprecedented richness of content and form, and gradually oust traditional paper-based word books out of existence. Despite the breathtaking developments of hard- and software, however, popular MRDs, especially those made for learners of foreign languages, are still deficient in a number of respects. Two of these are dealt with in this paper: (a) width and flexibility of user access to the riches of lexicographic content, and (b) the degree and (artificial) 'intelligence' of user modelling and customisation. It is argued that the two deficiencies are not due to any inherent technological obstacles, but rather to the conservatism of dictionary makers and users (both learners and teachers). A few examples of functionalities 'which could be, but are not' are provided in a hypothetical case study of EFL student Tom and his MRD.
PRONUNCIATION in MACMILLAN ENGLISH DICTIONARY on CD-ROM
Macmillan English Dictionary on CD-ROM is one of few monolingual EFL electronic dictionaries on the market to attempt to seriously address the phonetic potential of the lexicographic content and the multimedia technology. This is a detailed analysis of the structure and functioning of the phonetic representation in CD-ROM MED, with postulates and conclusions generalized to all learner's machine-readable dictionaries (MRDs). The three essential elements of MED phonetics are discussed: (a) the phonetic representations, both transcription and audio recordings, (b) the phonetic access mechanism through SoundSearch, (c) the Pronunciation Practice module. Some phono-lexicographic problems with the three components are pointed out.
Raising phonetic awareness through trivia
Postcards, advertising leaflets and billboards, xerox-, SMS- and internet-lore can be ample sources of linguistic trivia of all kinds, including those where some aspects of pronunciation are brought to the fore, usually through punning. These materials can, and should, be used to boost the metaphonetic competence (awareness, intuition) of foreign language learners in all areas of segmental and suprasegmental phonetics. This metacompetence is instrumental in teaching and learning foreign pronunciation, as part of the declarative-knowledge component thereof. Examples are provided of many categories of metaphonetic trivia.
Pronunciation in EFL CALL
State of the art in pronunciation-oriented EFL CALL is reviewed from the pedagogical perspective. Discussion touches upon CALL flexibility, coverage, declarative vs. procedural knowledge, L1-sensitivity, multimedia employment and automatic speech recognition (ASR). Six different CALL programs are briefly evaluated from these points of view: Fluency, Pronunciation Power, Connected Speech, Better Accent, ISLE and Tell Me More. Future promises and challenges in speech-enabled EFL CALL are outlined, such as speech synthesis, multimodality in man-machine communication and (speech-to-speech) machine translation.
TTS in EFL CALL - some pedagogical considerations
Rule-based Text-to-Speech synthesis (TTS) is discussed from the point of view of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL). The perspective is pedagogical rather than technological. Some didactically salient characteristics of TTS are considered, such as (a) its feasibility as a pronunciation model, (b) control afforded over accentual and phonostylistic variation of speech, (c) the prospects of multimodal synthesis ('talking heads'). Some internet website addresses featuring TTS information, products and demos are provided.
Phonetic keywords in EFL dictionaries revisited: MED
In my Euralex 2000 Stuttgart contribution I analysed phonetic keywords found in the pronunciation guides to 'the big four' monolingual learners' dictionaries of English (OALDCE4, LDOCE3, COBUILD1, CIDE). These keywords, whose function it is to cue unfamiliar IPA symbols used in the dictionaries' phonetic representations, were evaluated with respect to their native Paivio-familiarity, EFL phonetic difficulty and textual frequency. It was shown that while they were more or less equivalent on the first two scores, dictionaries varied widely in terms of the third. Appeal was made for more research into the phonetic structure and choice of keywords.
With the recent 2002 appearance of the fifth 'big', the Macmillan English Dictionary for Advanced Learners (MED), I used the previously applied yardsticks to measure how the new kid on the block fares. The answer is: (a) just like the others in terms of keyword familiarity, (b) worse in terms of phonetic difficulty, and (c) above average in terms of frequency. Some unique features of MED's keywords vis-a-vis the other four EFL dictionaries are pointed out.
Phonetically controlled definitions?
A phonostatistic analysis of pronunciation difficulty in the 88495 definitions of the British edition of Macmillan English dictionary for advanced learners (MEDAL) is performed. The L1-sensitive (Polglish) Phonetic Difficulty Index (PDI) of each word in every definition is automatically calculated, summed and averaged, as is the definition word-length (mean=11.91). Selected definitions are compared across three dictionaries: MEDAL, CALD and LDOCE4. Some defining vocabulary (DV) phonostatistics are also provided for the three dictionaries (PDI frequency distributions and means). Appeal is made for more control over definition phonetics, which is claimed to be important, especially for beginning and intermediate learners, who tend to subvocalize in reading.
Phonetic Difficulty Index
The Phonetic Difficulty Index (PDI) is discussed, its origin, bibliography, structural design, functionalities and present as well as potential applications. PDI is a global numerical measure of lexico-phonetic difficulty of English words to Polish EFL (Polglish) learners. It originated as part of the electronic Phonetic Access Dictionary (PAD) in the mid-1990's. It accounts for learners' common (a) grapho-phonemic, (b) L1-transfer, and (c) L2-interference pronunciation problems. PDI is currently programmed as a computer algorithm working on alphanumeric ASCII strings. It can be used for querying electronic dictionaries, in semi-automatic pronunciation exercise generation, in compilation of word-lists for EFL instruction and psycholinguistic experimentation, for NLP applications, as well as in phonetic and phonological research.
Automatic phonetic annotation of corpora for EFL purposes
Corpora of English text (both native and non-native) are now taken for granted as a resource in teaching and learning English as a Foreign Language (EFL). So far they have, however, been exploited mostly on the lexical, morpho-syntactic and stylistic level. The phonetic potential of raw-text corpora (as opposed to the few expensive acoustically treated and annotated ones) has not been discovered.
In this contribution a method is presented of automatically annotating raw-text corpora with EFL phonetic tags coming from a suitably treated electronic word-list. The focus of the presentation is in phonetic lapsology, i.e. in annotating English text for probable Polglish (Polish-English interlanguage) pronunciation problems and errors, as well as for the overall level of pronouncing difficulty. Two examples from my research are presented and discussed: (1) phono-lapsological analysis of definitions in Macmillan English Dictionary for Advanced Learners on CD-ROM (MEDAL; Sobkowiak, forthcoming) and (2) my current work on TIMIT sentences in the context of the Boulder-Poznań CSLR Colorado Literacy Tutor project. It is demonstrated that on top of automatic phonetic transcription of raw text, which is now conceptually and technologically rather trivial, a sophisticated L1-sensitive automatic phonetic annotation is feasible, with a variety of EFL-related functions, in particular text/sentence selection (e.g. TIMIT) and evaluation (e.g. MEDAL) for lexicographic, pedagogical and research (Sobkowiak, unpublished) purposes.
Innovative phonetic interfaces for electronic dictionaries
The query facilities built into electronic dictionaries of English as a foreign language (EFL) have significantly improved in recent years: hypertextual links, global text searches, Boolean search criteria combinations, access through phonetic transcription, etc. However, as far as dictionary content representation is concerned, the graphical user interfaces (GUI) mostly keep to the old tradition of two windows: (1) dynamically searchable macrostructural wordlist on the left, and (2) static microstructural entry panel on the right. Other boxes, menus, frames and flashcards are just embellishments of this fundamental standard interface scheme. Pronunciation in particular is graphically represented in but one century-old method: as a phonetic transcription field appearing (or not) right after the entry headword. In this paper I argue for the application to the representation of EFL electronic dictionary pronunciation of the new Java- and Flash-enabled animated GUIs, recently proposed for database querying by various authors. The benefits to learners include: (a) better mnemonicity, (b) improved customisability, (c) direct intuitive searchability, (d) explicit mapping of phonetic processes, relations and groupings (homophony, allophony, similarity, minimal-pairs, assimilations, deletions, L1 substitutions, etc.), and others.
Raising stylistic awareness through linguistic trivia
Postcards, advertising leaflets and billboards, xerox-, SMS- and internet-lore can be ample sources of linguistic trivia of all kinds, including those where some aspects of style and dialect are brought to the fore, usually through punning. These materials can, and should, be used to boost the stylistic awareness of foreign language learners on all levels of language structure and function: from phonetics to pragmatics. This awareness, or stylistic metacompetence, is instrumental in teaching and learning foreign language for communication, as part of the declarative-knowledge ("know-that") component thereof. Examples are provided of many categories of such stylistic trivia.
What are dictionary definitions good for?"
Monolingual foreign language dictionaries for learners are full of definitions. Normally, these are used, both by learners and teachers, for one purpose only: ascertaining the meaning of the currently looked-up lexical item. In electronic dictionaries one would also normally be allowed to run the so-called 'definition search', whereby headwords having a particular string in their definition would be listed for further inspection. But even in the most sophisticated electronic dictionaries for FL learners definitions (as well as example sentences) remain almost completely unexploited as a corpus of FL text.
In this paper, definitions taken from MEDAL (British English version) are scrutinized for the EFL potential which they hold across a variety of linguistic levels: from pronunciation, through vocabulary and syntax, to style. Treated as a properly tagged corpus of English text (about one million words in all), MEDAL definitions can be forged into an extremely rich reservoir of EFL insights, tasks, tests and exercises.
Sobkowiak shows how phonetically transcribed and pronouncing-difficulty-annotated definitions can be used to focus on selected EFL phonetic problems, with a built-in measure of L1-sensitivity. Kaszubski argues that POS-tagged dictionary definitions can help students acquire difficult lexico-stylistic distinctions and avoid the notorious (but hard-to-pinpoint) under- and over-use of some words and collocations. Wojnowska implements these insights in an automatic corpus-based TestBuilder of her own design, a program which assists teachers and learners in test preparation in a variety of formats (hangman, gaps, etc.).
It is shown that, properly annotated and exploited, electronic dictionary definitions need not function for reference only, but can significantly boost the didactic value of the dictionary. Such a teaching resource built into learners' dictionaries would follow the current trends in pedagogical lexicography, and foreign language teaching generally, where the lexicon is seen as the hub of FL skills, and the dictionary gradually takes the central position among all FL resources.
PDI revisited: lexical cooccurrence of phonetic difficulty codes
A lexical database of English originating from the machine-readable version of OALDCE has been annotated with two types of Polglish pronouncing difficulty tags: (a) aggregate numerical measures of grapho-phono-lexical difficulty, the Phonetic Difficulty Index (PDI), with a range of 0-10, and (b) qualitative PDI codes of specific grapho-phonetic difficulty, selected from a list of 57 such items, derived empirically from teaching experience. Some PDI codes (i.e. some grapho-phonetic difficulties) tend to cooccur in English words with higher than chance frequency. Words identified in this manner as 'knots' of the difficulty network can then be used for EFL teaching, dictionary making, natural language processing, linguistic experimentation and theory building, etc. Further applications of PDI-code cooccurrence are foreseen, such as building a lattice of qualitative phono-lapsological lexical equivalence within the English lexicon.
Review of Cambridge English Pronouncing Dictionary (CEPD) on CD-ROMPronouncing dictionaries are not only teaching/learning resources par excellence in the world of English as a Foreign Language (EFL), but are also regarded as being among the most often used and highly regarded aids at the advanced levels of EFL proficiency and pedagogy. Their authority, founded by the epoch-making EPD by Daniel Jones, is only matched by that of the (desk-size) general learner's dictionary of English released by one of the respectable EFL publishers. I believe that CEPD on CD-ROM is a remarkable achievement in electronic phono-lexicography, and this not only because it is the first of the kind, but also thanks to its inherent properties, which I will briefly present. At the same time, I will discuss some apparent problems of design and functionality which are in part unavoidable teething pains of the new baby of Cambridge University Press and TEXTware A/S, yet some of which reflect more systematic flaws of current electronic lexicography.
Phonolapsological equivalence and similarity in the English lexiconThe rationale, functionality and current structural implementation are described of an algorithm assigning phonetic difficulty tags to English words in a lexical database. The difficulty is defined with respect to commonly observed pronunciation problems of Polish learners of English as a foreign language (EFL). The resulting PDI index contains, for each wordform, both quantitative difficulty level information, with the range of 0-10, and qualitative difficulty tags in the form of 57 PDI codes, each for one specific Polglish pronunciation problem. From these indices, phonolapsological equivalence and similarity classes can be derived, i.e. sets of words of identical/similar PDI level and/or code. These constructs are argued to have a number of potential applications in phonolexicography, EFL teaching and beyond.
Testing EFL pronunciation across EuropeAs a workpackage of the EU Leonardo da Vinci VENOCES project (internet courses of vocational English in the fields of physics, ICT, interpersonal communication, environmental and civil engineering and architecture) a short 5-item multiple-choice questionnaire test of (declarative) knowledge of some phonetic processes of English has been conducted with 369 respondents, mostly students of universities and Fachhochschule in Poland, Germany, Finland and Lithuania. The study has confirmed that, globally speaking, spelling (i.e. graphophonemic inconsistencies), fast/casual speech processes and stress assignment are ample sources of error in EFL pronunciation. Some interesting L1-related variation has also been observed.
Testing computer literacy across Europe: ICT needs analysis in VENOCESAs a workpackage of the EU Leonardo da Vinci VENOCES project (internet courses of vocational English in the fields of physics, ICT, interpersonal communication, environmental and civil engineering and architecture) a 30-item needs-analysis yes/no questionnaire test of (declarative) knowledge of some practical aspects of basic ICT literacy has been conducted with 369 respondents, mostly students of universities and Fachhochschule in Poland, Germany, Finland and Lithuania. The proportion of correct answers ranges between 85.6% ('yes' to: The newest mobile phones can handle video) and 34.4% ('no' to: Delete key deletes a character; insert key inserts a character). The global results are compared with those of one respondent group (students of Economics in PWSZ in Konin). Some tentative observations, conclusions and speculations are formulated, especially concerning the sources of variance in: (a) aspects of ICT knowledge (hardware, software, communications), (b) types of ICT knowledge (declarative vs procedural), (c) the structure of the questionnaire (question vs statement, negation, polarity). For a subset of questionnaire items (15 questions), VENOCES PWSZ results are compared with those obtained in January 2001 from a similar group of students of the School of English, Adam Mickiewicz University.
Hitler, Macbeth, Apfelstrudel und Lieber-Gedichte: my experiences with technologically supported learner autonomyIn this presentation I will TELL about some personal experiences in the use of technology to support autonomy in learning German at the intermediate level in the in-service programme for Adam Mickiewicz University staff. Through micro-observation of my own successes and failures on this path I will try to identify some essential prerequisites, dangers and opportunities for the practical application of the World Wide Web, e-mail, digital video and palmtop software in supporting a WELL-motivated, pedagogically self-aware and autonomous learner (myself) in a formal setting of a 4-hour-a-week course of German. In terms of language subcomponents, the focus of the presentation will be on the acquisition of vocabulary. A CALL for allowing mature students more autonomy within a syllabus-based course will be formulated.
E-dictionaries and phonolexicographic needs of EFL usersThe phonetic aspect of (EFL) dictionaries is among the most seriously underrated and underdeveloped in (meta)lexicography. Pertinent bibliography is scant and even the best learner dictionaries are found wanting on a number of counts. This contribution is both a summary of my 12-year-long research into (pedagogical) phonolexicography (see bibliography) and a look ahead. I present the current state-of-the-art in phonolexicography with particular attention paid to how the leading pedagogical EFL e dictionaries relate to the actual and potential phonolexicographic needs of their users, both students and teachers. The main themes are: (a) the specificity of phonolexicographic needs of EFL users (e.g.: are there EFL dictionaries for teachers?), (b) phonetic representation, both graphic and acoustic, in dictionaries and its problems, (c) phonetic access, i.e. querying the contents of the dictionary via the phonetic code, (d) didactic aspects of phonolexicographic information, i.e. its use in teaching and learning (EFL) pronunciation. Under (a), a summary of pertinent research is made showing the subordinate nature of pronunciation among self-reported dictionary user needs, but also a stable minority of users eager to run pronunciation queries. I also speculate on the characteristics of the in spe "(pronunciation) teacher's dictionary", as opposed to the learner's one. Under (b) I deal, among others, with (i) the long-standing question of the choice and implementation of phonetic transcription in EFL dictionaries, (ii) the representation of phonostylistic variation in headwords, definitions and examples, (iii) the most common errors and inconsistencies in dictionary phonetic representations, e.g. the mismatch of transcription with audio recording, (iv) the L1-sensitivity in the treatment of pronunciation in dictionaries, (v) paraphonetic information, such as difficulty indexes, frequency and style indicators, the phonetic representation of inflections, and the like. Under (c), my original idea of 'phonetic access' conceived of in 1994 (Sobkowiak 1994), and now increasingly implemented in EFL dictionaries, is presented, including the potential structural scope of such access (headwords vs. all dictionary text) and typical available query types (e.g. one-off lookup vs. wordlist generation). Some criticism is voiced of the implementation of phonetic access in the best EFL e dictionaries currently on the market, and some speculations about its future are made. Under (d), I briefly look at the existing and potential pedagogical use of phonolexicographic information in EFL e dictionaries. I also voice an appeal, based on my recent research (Sobkowiak, in press) for a wider use of examples and definitions in monolingual dictionaries as text corpora to feed into a semi-automatic generator of (pronunciation) tasks and exercises for learners and teachers. Some exemplary queries are illustrated. Finally, an appeal is made for (1) more phonolexicographic research, (2) wider, but reasoned, use of hypermedia (hypertextualized multimedia) in electronic EFL dictionaries, (3) novel standards and methods in electronic pedagogical phonolexicography.
Phonetics of EFL dictionary definitionsThis is a phonostatistic and phonolapsological study of definitions in MEDAL, the Macmillan English Dictionary for Advanced Learners, a monolingual English-as-a-Foreign-Language (EFL) dictionary published in 2002 under the editorship of Michael Rundell. The study argues that phonolexicographic attention should be extended to those elements of dictionary microstructure which have traditionally remained outside of any phonetic control, including definitions and example sentences. There is room for improvement in this area. Specifically, definition text can, and should, be to some extent phonetically controlled to avoid lexical maxima of high phonetic difficulty, ensure easy (subvocal) reading, hence - foster understanding and incidental vocabulary learning by learners.
Calibrating the Phonetic Difficulty IndexTwenty English words of four different phonetic difficulty levels (as measured by the Phonetic Difficulty Index – PDI) were read in carrier sentences by 38 Polish learners of English aged 17-18. A total of 617 word-readings yielded 1211 errors, for the grand mean of 1.96 phonetic errors per reader per word. The primary aim of this experiment was to verify empirically the intuitively arrived at lexico-phonetic difficulty judgements of one author (Sobkowiak), encapsulated in the PDI assignment algorithm applied to the English lexicon. The secondary aim was to likewise verify PD intuitive ratings collected in 2000 from 208 university students of English as a Foreign Language. The results show that: (a) the correlation between PDI values and empirical data is nonsignificant, and that, therefore, (b) the PDI metric must be further calibrated for low proficiency level EFL students, (c) the student ratings show a statistically significant correlation with the empirical results, hence – good feeling for which words can be phonetically difficult to Polish learners of English.
British and American accents in LDOCE CD-ROM pronunciation searchTen areas of segmental phonetic difference between British English (RP) and American English (GenAm) accents are identified from the relevant article in Wikipedia. The Longman Dictionary of Current English (LDOCE on CD-ROM) pronunciation search is used to try to retrieve word lists meeting the differential criteria. In most cases the queries fail for a number of reasons: errors in phonetic transcription, grapho-phonemic problems in IPA coding of phonemic contrasts, lack of search distinction between the two accentual variants, limitations in phonetic access paths. Most weaknesses of e-LDOCE are typical of all EFL e-dictionaries offering phonetic access. Until they are corrected such tools are ineffective in assisting finely-tuned phonetic searches, such as those described in this paper.
Dictionary definitions as text corpora – a phonolexicographic perspectiveElectronic monolingual EFL dictionary definitions can be used as a textual corpus for use both in lexicography and language pedagogy. A phonolexicographic analysis of a corpus of phonetically transcribed and annotated MEDAL (Macmillan English dictionary for Advanced Learners) definitions is presented. Some conclusions are drawn for lexicography and EFL teaching. From the former perspective, definitions in learner's dictionaries can be phonetically more 'user-friendly', i.e. more rigorously controlled in terms of phonetic difficulty of the defining vocabularies implemented (as measured with an L1-sensitive phonetic difficulty Index, PDI) and of the inter-word junctures (sandhi) as well as other suprasegmental phenomena. From the perspective of EFL teaching and learning, definitions can be concorded qua corpus to query for phonetically sensitive strings. Such KWIC concordances can then be used in data-driven inductive learning of foreign pronunciation, as well as in exercise and test preparation. The latter can be conducted semi-automatically within the context of rich didactic functionalities of electronic dictionaries. Examples of both lexicographic and didactic benefits of using dictionary definitions as corpora are presented.
Pronunciation of acronyms and abbreviations in e-LDOCE and e-MEDALCD-ROM versions of MEDAL2 and LDOCE4 are compared in terms of their phonetic treatment of acronyms and abbreviations. A-onset acronyms are extracted from both dictionaries as a sample. Fifty-four of these appear in both dictionaries. Only twenty-seven are represented both graphically (phonetic transcription) and audially (recording) in both dictionaries. As many as one-fourth have no phonetic representation of either type. Twelve are recorded in LDOCE4 with no phonetic transcription. Neither dictionary offers an easy way to reliably search specifically for acronyms and abbreviations, although both feature rather sophisticated search menus. A number of errors are observed, both in the graphic and audio representation, as well as in their alignment. This is a striking weakness of the two cutting-edge electronic dictionaries in representing a phenomenon which is "one of the most noticeable features of present-day English linguistic life" Crystal's (1995:120).
The phonetics of EAP latinisms in EFL e-dictionariesLatinisms are commonly used in scientific registers of English. Foreign learners of English for Academic Purposes (EAP) must be able not only to understand their meaning for passive processing while reading (silently) scientific literature, but also to pronounce them according to English standards should they want or need to read such texts aloud or present their own homework or research publicly in speech. EFL dictionaries are the most natural resource to turn to in this situation.
Deliberate mispronunciation in EFL e-dictionaries: integrating PDI with TTSThe Phonetic Difficulty Index (PDI) is a quantitative/qualitative measure of word pronouncing difficulty to L1 learners of a given L2. Specifically, in its current implementation, it assigns numerical (0-10 range) and difficulty (57 pronouncing problems) Polglish-sensitive tags to an English word-list or text. The range of applications of the current version of PDI extends from evaluation of pedagogical materials, such as texts, word-lists, dictionaries, etc., in terms of phonetic difficulty, to generation of word-lists meeting user-specified phonetic criteria for teaching, learning, testing and materials preparation.
Concordancing Second Life discourseSecond Life is currently the most popular MUVE (Multi-User Virtual Environment) in existence, with over 10 million registered residents, most of them non-native speakers of English, which meanwhile remains SL's lingua franca. SL discourse is in many ways similar to that of Real Life (RL), but there are important differences, especially on the lexical, phraseological and stylistic level which are due to the need to communicate in-world about objects, concepts, events, activities and skills specific to this virtual world. New SL residents who are EFL (English as a Foreign Language) learners at the same time could benefit from resources specifically targetting their needs, both SL- and EFL-related. So far no such tools and materials exist which could be used for EFL teaching and learning in SL. This text proposes to use existing corpus analysis software to concordance SL discourse and extract SL-related vocabulary and phrases which could then be used for EFL pedagogy in SL. An example of such a procedure using The complete fool's guide to Second Life by Foolish Frost (SL identity) as analysed text is presented.
PDI as a tool of phonetic enhancements to graded e-readersThe relationship between phonetics and reading is not a popular area of pedagogical research and is mostly limited to the mechanics of teaching how to properly articulate the text read aloud and not so much to what phonetic aspects of foreign/second language might facilitate or debilitate the process of reading.
SLEFL pronunciation, or: on teaching and learning EFL pronunciation in Second LifeSecond Life is among the fastest developing Multi-User Virtual Environments (MUVEs), i.e. quasi-3d online worlds populated by 'avatars' controlled by 'residents' logging in from all over the globe. The 14 million SL residents (as of June 2008) go in-world to engage in most of the same behaviours they do in RL (Real Life): romance, sex, business, shopping, construction, sight-seeing, education, research, etc. There is a thriving community of educators active in SL, some of them teachers of foreign languages. Some EFL schools, organizations and teachers have been in-world for two and more years (i.e. for about half the world's existence). Few of them, however, specifically target EFL pronunciation. This is partly due to the global anti-phonetic bias of RL EFL teaching, which carries over to SL, as well as to the relatively new introduction of voice communication in-world (July 2007). And yet, pronunciation is equally, if not more, important to SL (E)FL learners as it is in RL.
"Happiness I hadn't felt before", czyli nauka języków obcych w Drugim ŻyciuSecond Life is introduced as a virtual world with a huge educational potential, specifically in the field of foreign language teaching and learning. Its immersive and inherently societal/communicative character are emphasized. Enthusiastic student response is exemplified. Further, some issues in teaching and learning foreign pronunciation are highlighted, such as: (a) using the voice communication channel in SL, (b) the options of exploiting the 3D simulative environment for phonodidactic purposes, (c) the most recalcitrant problems in this area.
Indeks trudności fonetycznej a elektroniczne książki RA-ZRelacje pomiędzy fonetyką a czytaniem nie są popularnym obszarem badawczym. Badania takie ograniczają się zwykle do mechanizmów kształcenia poprawnej artykulacji w głośnym czytaniu. W dużo mniejszym stopniu natomiast bada się, w jakim stopniu fonetyczne aspekty drugiego/obcego języka mogą wspomagać bądź też utrudniać proces czytania.
Review of J.C.Wells's Longman Pronunciation Dictionary (2008, 3rd ed., electronic version)Third electronic edition of Longman Pronunciation Dictionary (e-LPD3) by J.C.Wells is reviewed. The focus is on the Graphical User Interface (GUI) and phonetic access path via Sound Search. Their design and functions are described, analysed and evaluated. Some problems are scrutinized in-depth, such as (a) the coding of optional sounds, diphthongs and affricates, (b) the GUI logistics of the Sound Search window, (c) the searchability of non-IPA characters, (d) the functioning of wildcards, (e) the lack of multicriterial query options, (f) the discrepancies between phonetic transcription and recorded audio, (g) the technicalities of marking, copying, pasting and printing. The conclusion is that, while e-LPD3 is an excellent addition to the family of English electronic dictionaries in many respects, some errors, inadequacies and problems persist of a more systematic nature than an occasional typo.
Phonetic affordances of Second Life, czyli: obiekty fonetyczne w Drugim ŻyciuSecond Life (SL; Drugie Życie) to jeden z kilkuset istniejących obecnie światów wirtualnych: (quasi)trójwymiarowych przestrzeni funkcjonujących w internecie, zaludnionych cyfrowymi reprezentantami użytkowników, czyli ich awatarami. Wśród wszystkich światów wirtualnych (Virtual Worlds) Second Life wyróżnia się między innymi swoim potencjałem edukacyjnym, w tym także szeroką ofertą szkół, kursów, zajęć i grup poświęconych nauce języków obcych, w tym języka angielskiego (English as a Foreign Language - EFL). W moim referacie przedstawiłem niektóre właściwości Drugiego Życia umożliwiające wykorzystanie i konstruowanie obiektów dydaktycznych (scen i pomocy dydaktycznych), które nie istnieją w tzw. "realu" (Real Life), ponieważ albo ich zbudowanie jest zbyt wymagające finansowo czy logistycznie, albo jest wręcz niemożliwe ze względu na fizyczne właściwości środowiska. Będę więc mówił o właściwościach środowiska, które na coś pozwalają, czyli o "affordances", w odniesieniu do dydaktyki wymowy języka obcego, w szczególności EFL. Uwagę skoncentrowałem na możliwości konstruowania quasi-fizycznych przedmiotów wyposażonych we wbudowany dźwięk (naturalna bądź syntezowana mowa) oraz symulowane własności magnetyczne, takie jak przyciąganie/odpychanie się. Manipulacja takimi 'fonetycznymi' przedmiotami jest szczególnie pomocna w nauce wymowy u uczniów używających kinestetycznego stylu czy strategii poznawczych, zwłaszcza (lecz nie wyłącznie) dzieci.
Second Life w dydaktyce języka obcego"; Warsztat na konferencji "Mówienie w języku obcym"; Konin, 18-20 Maj 2009Second Life (SL; Drugie Życie) to jeden z kilkuset istniejących obecnie światów wirtualnych: (quasi)trójwymiarowych przestrzeni funkcjonujących w internecie, zaludnionych cyfrowymi reprezentantami użytkowników, czyli ich awatarami. Wśród wszystkich światów wirtualnych (Virtual Worlds) Second Life wyróżnia się między innymi swoim potencjałem edukacyjnym, w tym także szeroką ofertą szkół, kursów, zajęć i grup poświęconych nauce języków obcych, w tym języka angielskiego (English as a Foreign Language - EFL). W czasie warsztatu przetestowaliśmy praktycznie niektóre nieistniejące w życiu realnym (RL; Real Life) narzędzia, techniki i funkcjonalności Drugiego Życia, które wykorzystuje się w dydaktyce języka obcego, takie jak holodeki, dydaktycznie wzbogacone scenerie, trójwymiarowe obiekty wirtualne czy reifikacje symboli językowych. Te ostatnie były głównym tematem prezentacji "Phonetic affordances of Second Life, czyli: obiekty fonetyczne w Drugim Życiu" na tej samej konferencji. Warsztat pokazał jakie znaczenie w dydaktyce języka obcego mają takie specyficzne cechy światów wirtualnych jak: (a) tzw. 'affordances', czyli właściwości środowiska, które umożliwiają pewne działania, (b) poczucie zanurzenia (immersion) i ucieleśnienia (embodiment), (c) współobecność (co-presence), (d) wirtualna symulacja cech środowiska, itp. Warsztat w całości transmitowany był z Drugiego Życia, ale zapewnił pełną interaktywność między osobami zgromadzonymi po obu stronach ekranu.
Phonetically Augmented Virtuality in Second Life (presented at the Accents 2009 conference)In my Accents 2008 presentation I talked about and demonstrated some phonetic affordances of the virtual world of Second Life for EFL pronunciation teaching and learning; I also discussed some environment-inherent problems in this respect. In my 2009 presentation I showed how SL objects can be augmented with pronunciation-relevant qualities, such as built-in audio, phonetic transcription, pronunciation exercises and drills, expository information on selected phonetic topics, etc. Together they make up what I call an integrated PAV system of Phonetically Augmented Virtuality, on a par with similar systems of Augmented Reality (AR) currently developing in Real Life. I also reported on the last academic year's pronunciation teaching/consulting work which I did under the label of "Pronunciation with Wlodek Barbosa" consultation meetings held every Wednesday on the island of Virtlantis in SL. Most of my PAVed objects were used during those sessions. Such PAVed objects and activities naturally appeal most to kinesthetically-minded EFL learners, but are fun to use for all. They include, but are not limited to:
IFA, EFL, RA-Z, PDI: phonolapsological annotation for teaching pronunciationPhonetic Difficulty Index (PDI) is an algorithm phonetically transcribing orthographic text and tagging it with sixty-one expected Polglish pronunciation error tags: phonemic, graphophonemic, allophonic, morphological, accentual, sandhi, etc. The resulting resource can be used for learning, teaching, testing, materials preparation, textbook evaluation, dictionary compilation, syllabus design and in many other capacities in EFL pronunciation pedagogy. In this presentation we show examples of how PDI can be used in (i) phonolapsologically analyzing and evaluating graded readers ("Reading A-Z") targeting native American children, but adaptable for EFL, (ii) providing well-defined resources to help meet IFA pronunciation syllabus goals, such as "the student should know the phonemic shape of words within a basic English vocabulary, including word stress".
Review of Multimedialny kurs wymowy angielskiej "Say it right"Say it right is a welcome addition to the rather meager offer of pronunciation resources prepared with the Polglish learner in mind, currently available on the Polish market. It is huge in terms of recorded content, it shows a lot of editorial effort and care about the form of the product, it is flexible enough to serve as useful resource in a large variety of educational contexts. While it is definitely not an actual "course" or "textbook" in the strict sense of the term, it remains an interesting offer of what is best categorized as an extended and augmented lexicon of English sounds for EFL learners.
PDI in SLEFL pronunciation teaching and learning (Plenary lecture at the IV International conference on native and non-native accents of English on Accents in teaching English across time and space; lecture notes here)In 2008 in Łódź I talked about "SLEFL pronunciation, or: on teaching and learning EFL pronunciation in Second Life". In 2009 I presented "Phonetically Augmented Virtuality in Second Life". In 2010 I continued to reveal some of the intricacies of SL pronunciation teaching by showing how I have been using the Phonetic Difficulty Index (PDI) to extract and prepare pronunciation materials for my SL students from the PDI-annotated Brown corpus as well as from the series of graded American English readers called Reading A-Z (more on PDI here: http://ifa.amu.edu.pl/~swlodek/abstract.htm#abs57 and here: http://ifa.amu.edu.pl/~swlodek/abstract.htm#abs62).
"This is Tom" = /zyzys'tom/. Pronunciation in beginners' EFL textbooks then and nowTextbook appears to be one of the most fundamental elements of all formal-setting foreign language teaching and learning. Textbooks function in a foreign language classroom in many capacities (Cunningsworth 1995), one of which is the provision of text, used as a model for language practice, including practice of pronunciation. The changing methodological trends in EFL pedagogy over the decades affect EFL textbook pronunciation treatment in a variety of ways. In this paper a simple feasibility study is presented whereby a few beginners’ textbooks are compared with respect to their handling of pronunciation in the first unit of the course. Four textbooks come from about 1/2 century ago, and three are sampled from among those currently available. On the descriptive level, some analysis is offered of the phonetic (and especially phonolapsological) characteristics of the sampled texts, as they changed through time. On the level of application, it is claimed that, while the lexico-grammatical and pedagogical limitations on the content of the first lessons/units in EFL textbooks leave authors little space for phonetic control, a modicum of such control is feasible if attention is paid to such variables as pronunciation difficulty and L1 transfer. The Phonetic Difficulty Index (PDI), which is briefly introduced in the paper, can be used to measure and control some of these variables and give the textbook authors and users a useful teaching/learning instrument.
Five years in Second Life, or: Phonetically Augmented Virtuality in Second Life English as a Foreign LanguageIn this book I narrate some of my personal and professional experience of Second Life (SL), one of the few hundred Virtual Worlds now in existence. I mostly talk about my teaching of English-as-a-Foreign-Language (EFL) pronunciation in an educational community called Virtlantis. This pro-bono community service lasted four (school) years, from September 2008 to June 2012. I conducted 163 weekly meetings of 'Pronunciation with Wlodek Barbosa', with students from all over the (physical) world. In the book I report in detail on these meetings, as well as append thirty actual activity notecards used during the lessons. In those activities I used Phonetically Augmented Virtual objects (PAVed objects), i.e. interactive objects constructed in SL which contain some phonetic content in them, such as sound files, phonetic transcription, test questions about pronouncing problems, etc.
Virtlantis, Facebook and Second Life: web2 scaffolding for virtual world language learning community of practiceIn this text I talk about the community of Virtlantis, of which I have been a member now for about seven years. Virtlantis "is a free language learning resource and community of practice in the virtual world of Second Life" (www.virtlantis.com). The focus of my contribution is on how Facebook, as the group's main web2 social networking venue, functions as a scaffolding for the many foreign language (FL) learning activities offered by Virtlantis members in Second Life (SL) on the two islands occupied by the community: Knowingly and Paradise. In brief: members of the group use Facebook for a variety of affordances, such as (a) asking for and offering help: both First Life (FL) and SL-related, (b) informing the community about current announcements, event venue and timing changes, new activity offers, etc., (c) blogging about SL activities: both from the point of view of their mentors/organizers and learners/participants, (d) providing rudimentary FL e-teaching/learning opportunities in the form of short instructional passages and/or links to selected resources on web2, (e) welcoming new members, integrating the community, socializing, and making friends, (f) advertising Virtlantis existence to the virtual and physical worlds, promotion and fund-raising.
Phonolapsology of graded readers in EFL: theory, analysis, applicationThis book consists of six chapters whose conceptual and research scope is directly reflected in the title of the monograph. Chapter 2, which follows Introduction, treats about the theoretical issues: Communicative Language Teaching (CLT), phonolapsology and reading. The importance and neglect of pronunciation in the contemporary approaches to foreign language teaching such as CLT is discussed, as well as its role in the acquisition of English as a Foreign Language through reading.
Włodzimierz Sobkowiak's full bibliography